Fidesz and Zsolt Bayer: A close connection

I’m afraid I will have to return to Zsolt Bayer’s unspeakable article in Magyar Hírlap because since its appearance on January 5 a lot has happened.

In most civilized countries the editor-in-chief of a paper wouldn’t have allowed that incendiary piece to appear in print in the first place. But if the editor-in-chief made a mistake and published it, he would at the very first possible opportunity have apologized and distanced the paper from the author’s hate speech. Moreover, in a civilized country Bayer, the senior editor of the paper, would most likely have been summarily fired.

Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. Zsolt Bayer was given an opportunity to explain his first article “Who shouldn’t exist!” He offered up “Truly, what should be done?” In it, Bayer explained that naturally he could have written the original piece in a civilized manner but he chose this offensive style because he wanted to wake society up to the grave problem facing Hungary. He doesn’t want to kill anyone; he just wants “order.”  Finally, he brought up some poetic images including a Gyula Illyés line that he mistakenly attributed to Mihály Babits.

On the same day as Bayer’s explanation Gábor Széles, the owner of Magyar Hírlap, and István Stefka, the editor-in-chief, published a “Declaration.” It was a typical Hungarian right-wing rant that started with Ferenc Gyurcsány’s despicable treatment of Magyar Hírlap in 2009. It reminded its readers that after another horrendous article appeared in the paper the prime minister called on government offices not to subscribe to the paper. Thus, claims the “Declaration,” Gyurcsány violated the sacred principle of freedom of expression. It is no secret, the “Declaration” continues, that with its attack on Magyar Hírlap the opposition wants to break up the unity of the Right.

At the end, however, they apologized for any unintended affront and promised not to publish anything that might give rise to hate on either the left or the right.

Well, one could say that although the owner and the editor-in-chief didn’t admit that Bayer’s piece went beyond what can be considered legitimate freedom of expression and actually can be construed as an incitement against an ethnic group which is a crime in Hungary, at least they admitted that the article rightly caused consternation.

It would have been wise if Magyar Hírlap had stopped right there. The incident had already caused an upheaval in Hungary and abroad. Since Zsolt Bayer is one of the original founders of Fidesz and a personal friend of Viktor Orbán, it might have been a good idea to drop the whole topic as soon as possible and hope that the incident would be forgotten. But no, this is not how things work in Hungary.

By this morning the management of the paper decided to retract their semi-apology and stand by their man. Not only that, but for good measure they even dragged Fidesz and the government into this sordid business.

The original “Declaration” was taken off the paper’s website and instead a new “Declaration” was published. The tone of this new one is not at all conciliatory. On the contrary, it is wildly belligerent. The headline reads: “Answers to the Attacks.” The new version repeats the cardinal sin of Gyurcsány in 2009 when apparently friends of Magyar Hírlap demonstrated on Kossuth Square for their favorite paper which “in the last six years has supported democracy, freedom, and independence.”

The article by Zsolt Bayer is not the real question, Széles and Stefka claim.  The real problem is the left-liberal damage that has been inflicted on the country (országrontás) that led to the current conditions. Murderers and beastly, cruel criminals pillage in many parts of the country, but the liberal elite wants to cover up these crimes. What the liberals are doing is a form of connivance which, in their opinion, is worse than the original crime itself. Some members of the opposition consider anti-Semitism and racism the real problem in the country while they don’t allow the authorities to clamp down on the crimes of Gypsies. Magyar Hírlap‘s stand is that “There is no forgiveness for murderers. Even less for those who shield them. Magyar Hírlap rejects the latest witch hunt of the post-communists and at the same time asks the readers and supporters of the newspaper to stand by our senior editor, our paper and our national government working on our behalf.

What happened between yesterday and today? One explanation for this change of heart came this afternoon from György Balavány. I don’t think that I’ve mentioned his name before. He is a right-wing newspaperman who worked for Magyar Nemzet for ten years. But a few months ago he left the paper and since then has become a critic of the Orbán government. He seems to me somebody who likes to be in opposition. Magyar Nemzet was fine as long as it was an opposition paper but when it became a “government paper” Balavány had difficulty adjusting to the new situation. Now he writes for atlatszo.hu and has a blog, balavanyposzt.blog.hu.

Old friends: Zsolt Bayer and Viktor Orbán having fun

Old friends: Zsolt Bayer and Viktor Orbán having fun

Balavány told the following story on his blog this afternoon. Zsolt Bayer used to work for Magyar Nemzet (2002-2007) before he became senior editor of Magyar Hírlap.  According to Balavány, Bayer was not liked at the paper and his colleagues considered him “the man of the Party.” After Bayer left for Magyar Hírlap in 2007, as a result of some administrative mix-up Balavány inherited Bayer’s telephone number. One day a voice on the other end said: “Hi, listen, here is something, write about it, may I tell you about it now?” At this point Balavány introduced himself and asked with whom he was speaking. It was Gábor Kubatov. At this point Kubatov laughed and asked for Bayer’s telephone number.

Balavány closes his post this way: “Yes, we knew that he is a Proud Member of the Party but we didn’t know that he works under such direct orders. Zsolt is not a simple national-conservative reporter who criticizes left-liberal politics and politicians. Zsolt is the Voice of the Party. That is the case. So, we know that we cannot expect any distancing here on the part of Fidesz and the government.”

I suspect that Balavány is correct. Fidesz decided that there will be no retreat here. No apologies. It might even be possible that the original order came from Fidesz to write something on the latest brawl involving Gypsies but somehow the final product was a little too rough around the edges. Now somewhere on the highest level of Fidesz the decision was made not to bend but to stand by the spirit of Bayer’s original article. I suspect that Fidesz is in this shameful affair up to its collective neck. (If guilt can be collective, perhaps a metaphorical neck can be as well.)

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Minusio
Guest
Minusio
January 9, 2013 7:42 pm

Yes, a muck connection. [It makes you pine for pizza connections…]

However, Éva, there is no collective guilt, unless you can name everyone in the collective who is as guilty as everyone else in the collective. – This is actually an ongoing ethical discussion in philosophy. But if you think about it, to attribute ‘collective guilt’ is practically impossible. And from several other aspects, it’s not desirable that there is something as collective guilt. It softens the responsibility of the individual.

Paul
Guest
January 9, 2013 7:50 pm

If the opposition were clever they would encourage this sort of thing and push Fidesz/Orbán into madder and more extreme actions/statements. Every time something like this happens, more people outside Hungary become aware of what’s going on, the pressure on the EU/US/etc to do something increases, and, most importantly of all, more people in Hungary start to realise that instead of the Fidesz revolution they voted for, they’ve just got a bunch of power crazed madmen.

Member
Some1
January 9, 2013 8:01 pm

Minusio :
And from several other aspects, it’s not desirable that there is something as collective guilt. It softens the responsibility of the individual.

100% agree! This “collective guilt” philosophy that drives Fidesz against any situation and take advantage of it when they can. THe “collective guilt” goes hand in hand with the “others did it and I can too”. Fidesz lives under those “rules”.

Eva wrote ” Bayer explained that naturally he could have written the original piece in a civilized manner but he chose this offensive style because he wanted to wake society up to the grave problem facing Hungary.” and so he did. I think now the whole world is woken up to see, how ugly are the minds of some Fidesz supporters, and that there is no difference between Jobbik and Fidesz. Next time, when Fidesz preaches about “if you do not support us Jobbik will take over”, the answer is clear “Jobbik already did, and it is in the Fidesz headquarters”. There is no difference.

Run Run Run
Guest
Run Run Run
January 9, 2013 10:20 pm

Not only in Hungary. But perfected in Budapest. On the pages of the Magyar Hirlap.
Too many noble ladies and gentlemen of the old world (the Horthy era), sidelined by the post WWII regimes, will enjoy the patriotic restoration delivered by FID$$ to the very end of a Gorbachov style implosion.
The Horthy recipe is at work again.
It demands an unbelievable sacrifice, and is punishing all Hungarian children and grandchildren.
A few generations failed before, and will continue failing along the false path to glory.
It is a bad Hungarian tradition. A Greek, an Egyptian, an Iranian, and a Chadian drama.

Lutra lutra
Guest
Lutra lutra
January 10, 2013 3:42 am

Fidesz has failed to bring economic or social order to Hungary as voters thought they would do, due to their failure to understand the complexities of the problems and their own incompetence in bringing solutions. I think Bayer realises their failure and jumping on the “Gypsy crime” moral panic bandwagon is a way of gaining maximum publicity.

Maybe the (slimy) trail doesn’t lead back to Orbán but to someone like Köver, who’s more publicly right-wing and also maybe feels that his party needs to focus on taking practical steps to solve economic and social problems if it’s to avoid a humiliating reverse in next year’s elections. He might have a point – with these latest antics and calls to expel Bayer from the party, Orbán will only look weak and indecisive if he takes the “do nothing” option.

Tyrker
Guest
Tyrker
January 10, 2013 3:52 am

If guilt can be collective

It cannot. There’s no such thing as collective guilt. Even if a crime is committed by a group, each individual within the group should be held accountable for his or her own deeds.

Ron
Guest
Ron
January 10, 2013 4:39 am
A fideszes Lánchíd Rádióban csak a diktatúra névvel van gond, tartalmilag nincs kifogásuk… “Betelefonáló Néni: Én nagyon szeretem a miniszterelnököt, az Orbán Viktort. Műsorvezető: Igen, igen! B.N.: És a kormányt is nagyon szeretem Műsorvezető (vidáman): ühümm, ühümm B.N.: Mert én bevallom őszintén, diktatúrapárti vagyok. Műsorvezető (levegőért kapkodva): Khm, már elnézést… B.N.: És ez a kormány pontosan úgy csinálja, ahogy kell, diktatórikus intézkedéseket hoz, erre van szükség Műsorvezető (teljesen összezavarodva): Na de a szóhasználat, hogy úgy mondjam, én azt gondolom, hogy ez talán így egy ki… B.N. (közbevág): Mert mi volt a felsőoktatási törvény, ha nem szükségszerűen diktatórikus intézkedés, mi volt a bankadó, ha nem diktatórikus (tovább sorolja) Műsorvezető (kétségbeesetten): De kérem, ezt a szót ne használjuk, mondjuk inkább azt, hogy rend vagy értékközpontúság. B.N.: Jó, mondjuk.” A beszélgetés a keddi Lecsó című műsorban hangzott el. Via: vampirpillango.tumblr.com Google translation: The Fidesz Chain Radio dictatorship name only is okay, there is no objection to the content … “Phoned Aunt: I really like the prime minister, Viktor Orban. Presenter: Yes, yes! B.N.: And the government also love Presenter (cheerfully): Uh-huh, Uh-huh BN: Because I confess frankly, I am pro-dictatorship. Presenter (gasping for breath): Um, excuse me … BN: And this government is… Read more »
dvhr
Guest
dvhr
January 10, 2013 4:47 am

Ron: Perhaps this is the place to remind that Orban “didn’t fight against the dictatorship but against those people who maintained that dictatorship”.

Ron
Guest
Ron
January 10, 2013 5:07 am

dvhr :
Ron: Perhaps this is the place to remind that Orban “didn’t fight against the dictatorship but against those people who maintained that dictatorship”.

Really? Who said this and when? Ahh so many questions?

Gábor
Guest
Gábor
January 10, 2013 6:20 am

Probably it is juts a sidetrack, but if someone is interested what is the new, splendid Friends of Hungary Foundation doing, and how it is cooridnating hate campaigns against thos, who do not abide to their wviews on certain issues just check these links:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=410943168983969&set=a.234109026667385.54939.233600616718226&type=1

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=411176332293986&set=a.234109026667385.54939.233600616718226&type=1&theater

Tha facebook profile’s admin is a certain Dávid Bencsik and the cover photo shows that it is connected to Új Társadalom Szalon,
http://www.ujtarsadalomszalon.hu/alapito.htm ahwt is an enterprise of the KDNP and Bencsik, who at the moment acts as representative of Budapest in Brussels, belongs to its founders.

Bowen
Guest
Bowen
January 10, 2013 6:36 am
Gábor : Probably it is juts a sidetrack, but if someone is interested what is the new, splendid Friends of Hungary Foundation doing, and how it is cooridnating hate campaigns against thos, who do not abide to their wviews on certain issues just check these links: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=410943168983969&set=a.234109026667385.54939.233600616718226&type=1 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=411176332293986&set=a.234109026667385.54939.233600616718226&type=1&theater Tha facebook profile’s admin is a certain Dávid Bencsik and the cover photo shows that it is connected to Új Társadalom Szalon, http://www.ujtarsadalomszalon.hu/alapito.htm ahwt is an enterprise of the KDNP and Bencsik, who at the moment acts as representative of Budapest in Brussels, belongs to its founders. Warning: if you go to the ‘Friends of Hungary’ website, you might end up wanting to bang your head against the nearest hard object. There are three reasons for this. 1) ‘Friends of Hungary’ is an organisation which will cost the Hungarian taxpayer 4 billion forints (!) 2) It’s partisan political whitewashing would put a Soviet newspaper to shame. 3) Hidden among the gushing ‘isn’t Hungary wonderful’ stuff and ‘We love other countries too!’ are rather contentious articles calling for the independence of the Szekelyfold, and this gem that the Hungarians invented the word “Hello”. “Tivadar Puskás said “hallo” into the telephone receiver for the… Read more »
Bowen
Guest
Bowen
January 10, 2013 6:52 am

Oh, but this will surely warm the cockles of your heart. There’s an article on “Friends of Hungary” about the guy who won the “Award for a Civic Hungary” this year!

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=398937733517846&set=pb.233600616718226.-2207520000.1357818602&type=3&theater

It makes you feel good to be a Hungarian taxpayer!

marikaschmiedt
Guest
January 10, 2013 7:01 am

Reblogged this on marikaschmiedt.

Guest
January 10, 2013 7:09 am

London Calling!

I’ve been banging my head for a long time Bowen!

When Hungarians say ‘Hello’ – they mean goodbye!

When I say ‘Hello’ I mean ‘Hello’!

So typical conversations with Hungarians start with ‘Hello’ and end with ‘Hello’!

(And yes ‘Hello’ was invented by………… Thomas Edison! – It must be true it features on QI!)

More head banging I fear!

Regards

Charlie

hongorma
Guest
hongorma
January 10, 2013 7:11 am

Thank you, Eva, for bringing light to this deeply unspeakable incidence of hate sppech.

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Bowen
Guest
Bowen
January 10, 2013 7:27 am

Eva S. Balogh :
I took a look at the Friends of Hungary site on FB. Unreal!

I’m going to start a FB page called ‘Enemies of Hungary’. Can I get state-funding for this?

Gábor
Guest
Gábor
January 10, 2013 7:34 am

Eva S. Balogh :
I took a look at the Friends of Hungary site on FB. Unreal!

But it was just transfered to the subordination of the Prime Minister’s Office and the admin is a guy who poses with Semjén and Harrach as co-founder’s of the Új Társadalom Szalon, that is also on the page. Furthremore, the admin guy can easily be idenified as a politician of Ifjúsági Kereszténydemokrata Szövetség. And what tehy aer doing with Eric Weaver is not much better than kuruc.info-s hate campaigns! It is hard not to conclude that what they are doing is smei-offial government policy…

Guest
January 10, 2013 8:39 am

If “National Narcissism” is such a threat–perhaps I’ll read it. Amazon has the paperback listed for $66.19 and a used copy for $131.50. So, no.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
Karl Pfeifer
January 10, 2013 9:18 am

Paul :
If the opposition were clever they would encourage this sort of thing and push Fidesz/Orbán into madder and more extreme actions/statements. Every time something like this happens, more people outside Hungary become aware of what’s going on, the pressure on the EU/US/etc to do something increases, and, most importantly of all, more people in Hungary start to realise that instead of the Fidesz revolution they voted for, they’ve just got a bunch of power crazed madmen.

I am afraid, the opposition does not have to encourage this sort of thing, that would be unethical and also counterproductive. Fidesz/Orbán are going to protect Zsolt Bayer, because they want the “rightwing unity” the Magyar Hirlap propagates. This is a dangerous road not so much because of what will be the reaction abroad, but because of the dangers of pogroms in Hungary, directed against the Roma.

Fellini
Guest
Fellini
January 10, 2013 10:09 am

I know this is politically incorrect even to surmise, and this article was about gypsies, but can it be that Zsolt Bayer is Jewish like Csanád Szegedi (of Jobbik fame) was, or earlier István Lovas (if anybody remembers his name, he stareted being openly anti-semitic in the second half of the nineties in Magyar Nemzet and until it turned out that he received the Israeli passport which he did not eventualy pick up at the embassy, he was very influential, later left Hungary)? People which such sick hatred as Bayer often actually hate themselves, as we have seen in the US with many hardliner anti-gay politicians who turned out to be gay. Also being such a loyal party person (as desrcibed by Balavany) could be the manifesttation of an extreme desire to be accepted, to be liked, after earlier problems with acceptance. Just a thougt. Bayer certainly seems a mental case.

Member
Some1
January 10, 2013 10:31 am
Fellini : I know this is politically incorrect even to surmise, and this article was about gypsies, but can it be that Zsolt Bayer is Jewish like Csanád Szegedi (of Jobbik fame) was, or earlier István Lovas (if anybody remembers his name, he stareted being openly anti-semitic in the second half of the nineties in Magyar Nemzet and until it turned out that he received the Israeli passport which he did not eventualy pick up at the embassy, he was very influential, later left Hungary)? People which such sick hatred as Bayer often actually hate themselves, as we have seen in the US with many hardliner anti-gay politicians who turned out to be gay. Also being such a loyal party person (as desrcibed by Balavany) could be the manifesttation of an extreme desire to be accepted, to be liked, after earlier problems with acceptance. Just a thougt. Bayer certainly seems a mental case. I must agree with you. Not with the point that Bayer is Jewish or such, but that such hatred is coming from the “inner demons”, self-loathing and low self-esteem.. Your “philosophy” were greatly demonstrated in two movies, American Beauty (Col. Frank Fitts) and in Schindler’s List (Amon… Read more »
Lecso
Guest
Lecso
January 10, 2013 12:34 pm

Slightly off topic, but Chief prosecutor Imre Keresztes said that Gyöngyösi’s “Jew list” speech did NOT constitute as hate speech, and dropped the probe against it.
He also threw out the complaint against Zsolt Bayer.

http://www.iol.co.za/news/world/hungary-drops-jewish-list-probe-1.1449887#.UO75dG-Ezao

cheshire cat
Guest
cheshire cat
January 10, 2013 12:49 pm

@Charlie
…and we use “szia” as hello as well as see you.

spectator
Guest
spectator
January 10, 2013 1:11 pm

Bowen :

Eva S. Balogh :
I took a look at the Friends of Hungary site on FB. Unreal!

I’m going to start a FB page called ‘Enemies of Hungary’. Can I get state-funding for this?

Oh, but you can!
Only have to find the suitable ‘state’ though…

spectator
Guest
spectator
January 10, 2013 1:37 pm
Lutra lutra : Fidesz has failed to bring economic or social order to Hungary as voters thought they would do, due to their failure to understand the complexities of the problems and their own incompetence in bringing solutions. I think Bayer realises their failure and jumping on the “Gypsy crime” moral panic bandwagon is a way of gaining maximum publicity. Maybe the (slimy) trail doesn’t lead back to Orbán but to someone like Köver, who’s more publicly right-wing and also maybe feels that his party needs to focus on taking practical steps to solve economic and social problems if it’s to avoid a humiliating reverse in next year’s elections. He might have a point – with these latest antics and calls to expel Bayer from the party, Orbán will only look weak and indecisive if he takes the “do nothing” option. Actually the trail leads back straight, at least abroad. A Swedish paper referring to the event as: “A friend of the Prime Minister described the Roma as animal” – and identify Bayer as one of the original founders of the ruling party. While it’s far from being a global effect, it makes fairly clear, that from the outside this… Read more »
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